On Friday, researchers stated that teenage girls are twice likely in comparison to boys to show depressive symptoms when linked to social media usage. This is mostly due to online harassment and disturbed sleep, in addition to poor body image and lower self-esteem.
A study analyzed data from about 11,000 young people in Britain, wherein researchers found out that 14-year-old girls used social media heavily, with two-fifths of them using it for more than three hours a day, in contrast to one-fifth of boys using it.
The study also observed that about 12 percent of light social media users and 38 percent of heavy social media users (who use social media for about five-plus hours a day) showed signs of getting into much severe depression.
These figures came as a shock to the researchers. The researchers looked up to the underlying processes which might be linked with the social media usage and depression and found that about 40 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys were victims to online harassment or cyberbullying. Among girls, 40 percent suffered from disrupted sleep in comparison to 28 percent of boys facing the same. It doesn’t come as a surprise that anxiety and poor sleep are both linked to depression.
The researchers found out that the girls were more affected due to social media use and this popped up due to concerns about body image, self-esteem, and appearance but the gap with boys was smaller.
Yvonne Kelly, a professor at University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care who co-led the research, suggested the parents and policymakers to note its results and said thus- “These findings are highly relevant to the current policy development on guidelines for the safe use of social media and calls on industry to more tightly regulate hours of social media use for young people. Families may also want to reflect on when and where it is okay to be on social media and consider these restrictions on teenagers who own mobile devices in their bedrooms.
The study was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and was published on an online journal EClinical Medicine on Friday.